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Watch the Dateline episode "Righteous Obsession" now

Dennis Murphy reports.

It’s a tidy, manicured subdivision that just seems to cry out, “It’s a safe place.”

Most people in Elizabeth City – a sleepy North Carolina waterfront community – were sound asleep around 2:00 a.m. on that sultry August night in 2018.

A woman named Angel, bleeding from a head wound, raced to get help from her neighbor, who called 911.

Her story was ghastly: Not long after midnight, a masked man dressed all in black had slipped into the home she shared with her husband, Milton.

The masked intruder attacked them both.

Angel described being brutally pistol-whipped. She sobbed as she relayed the details to the 911 operator.

She said she was worried for her husband, who was still at the house.

Sergeant Jason Wheelbarger, who was a patrol deputy at the time, raced to the scene.

He told Dateline he remembered seeing blood coming down Angel’s forehead and that there was duct tape on her left wrist.

Angel told Wheelbarger that Milton was in the house, on the floor of the bathroom.

Not knowing what he was walking into, the deputy entered the house with his gun drawn.

The intruder was gone - but the bedroom was trashed – drawers out, jewelry strewn about.

It was clear there had been a struggle.

Then Wheelbarger looked towards the adjacent bathroom, where he saw someone lying on the floor.

It was Milton. He was motionless.

Wheelbarger checked his pulse. Milton was cold, stiff.

Milton had been murdered.

But why?

To find out what happened, watch the full episode, “Righteous Obsession” now.

You can also watch on Peacock TV or listen to the podcast.

After you watch, hear more treasured memories of Milton from his loved ones.

Remembering Milton Sawyer

Oct. 20, 202202:35